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  • Wed, Sep 16 2009
  • 4:33 PM » The Recession Is Over ?
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 4:33 PM by The Big Picture
    In light of my earlier , my friend Scott sends this along: > via
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 1:46 PM » Personal Finance Daily: IRS will be digging deeper into your tax returns
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:46 PM by Market Watch
    The mortgage-interest deduction is one of the best things going for homeowners. It allows the write-off of all the interest you pay each year on your home loans, including most home-equity-loan interest, which in the early years of your mortgage can be pretty much all of your monthly payment. For many taxpayers who itemize it can be their single biggest break.
  • 1:45 PM » Housing Recovery Falters as Federal Stimulus Wanes
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:45 PM by CNBC
    For anyone who argues the relevance of government stimulus on housing recovery, consider this: A third of all home buyers in the past several months have taken advantage of the $8000 home buyer tax credit.
  • 1:44 PM » Streitfeld: The Housing Tax Credit Debate
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:44 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    From David Streitfeld at the NY Times: When Congress passed an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers last winter, it was intended as a dose of shock therapy during a crisis. Now the question is becoming whether the housing market can function without it. As many as 40 percent of all home buyers this year will qualify for the credit. It is on track to cost the government $15 billion, more than twice the amount that was projected when Congress passed the stimulus bill in February. Streitfeld discusses some of the proponents of extending and expanding the tax credit (like the NAR), and some of the opponents (most economists on the right and left). Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research called the credit “a questionable redistributive policy” from renters to home buyers, but said that he used it himself when he bought a house. He wrote on his blog: “Thank you very much, suckers!” Mark Zandi at supports extending and expanding the tax credit because he believes the housing market is still in serious trouble: "The risks of not doing something like this are too great,” [Zandi] said. “I don’t think the coast is clear.” But if we actually look at the numbers, this is a poor choice for a second stimulus package. The NAR : NAR estimates that about 1.8 to 2.0 million first-time buyers will take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit this year, with approximately 350,000 additional sales that would not have taken place without the credit. You can calculate the new $15 billion projection; 1.9 million times $8,000. But this only resulted in 350,000 additional sales. Divide $15 billion by 350 thousand, and the program cost is about $43,000 per additional buyer. Very expensive. Now the National Association of Home Builders estimates that expanding and extending the credit through 2010 would generate 500,000 additional sales at a cost of about $30 billion. So this is approximately $60,000 per additional house sold. And I think the cost will be much...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 1:43 PM » The End of the Official Recession?
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:43 PM by Calculated Risk Blog
    First, a nice mention in Newsweek (thank you): (see slide 4 for a quote from Feb 2005, ht Matthew, Eric) On the end of the recession, from Bloomberg: “Even though from a technical perspective the recession is very likely over at this point, it’s still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time,” Bernanke said today at the Brookings Institution in Washington, responding to questions after a speech. Although I think the official recession has probably ended, it is worth remembering that one or two quarters of GDP growth doesn't necessarily mean the recession is over. Right in the middle of the '81/'82 recession, there was one quarter when GDP increase 4.9% (annualized). On recession dating: 1 The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Business Cycle Dating Committee is the recognized group for calling dating recessions in the U.S. It is always difficult to tell when a recession has ended, especially with a jobless recovery (something I expect again). As an example, it took NBER over a year and half after the 2001 recession ended to of the cycle. And it took 21 months after the 1990-1991 recession ended for NBER to . From the 2003 of the end of the 2001 recession: The committee waited to make the determination of the trough date until it was confident that any future downturn in the economy would be considered a new recession and not a continuation of the recession that began in March 2001. The economy was still struggling in 2003 - especially employment - but the NBER committee members felt that any subsequent downturn would be considered a separate recession: The committee noted that the most recent data indicate that the broadest measure of economic activity-gross domestic product in constant dollars-has risen 4.0 percent from its low in the third quarter of 2001, and is 3.3 percent above its pre-recession peak in the fourth quarter of 2000. Two other indicators of economic activity that play an important role in the committee's decisions...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Calculated Risk Blog
  • 1:42 PM » Commentary: Multi-Family Vacancy to Rise
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:42 PM by Google News
    In light of rising vacancies in the third quarter, rent growth is expected to decline.
  • 1:41 PM » Treasury Issues Debt Management Guidance on the Supplementary Financing Program
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:41 PM by US Treasury
    September 16, 2009 TG-289 Treasury Issues Debt Management Guidance on the Supplementary Financing Program Washington – The U.S. Department of Treasury today issued the following statement on the Supplementary Financing Program: "Treasury currently anticipates that the balance in the Treasury's Supplementary Financing Account will decrease in the coming weeks to $15 billion, as outstanding Supplementary Financing Program bills mature and are not rolled over. This action is being taken to preserve flexibility in the conduct of debt management policy." ###
  • 1:40 PM » Governments Need Plan to Dispose of Crisis Assets, Shed Risk: IMF
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:40 PM by IMF
    After propping up the financial system during the global crisis, governments now need a plan to dispose of the assets they took over and reduce their large risk exposures, according to an IMF study.
  • 1:40 PM » Analyze The Market! Qualitative vs. Quantitative
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:40 PM by Google News
    Appraisers have had blinders on for way too long. It is time to open our eyes wide, keep an open mind and to truly think outside the “check” box. Most of us learned this crazy business by filling out a form. For me, it was actually preparing forms on the good old typewriter, and since clients didn’t accept White-out, if you made one mistake, you retyped the whole thing …. in my case, normally after almost completing the entire report. My education truly began when I started actually thinking, securing meaningful education and not merely form-filling thanks somewhat to George K. Cox, MAI, SRA. It’s time for all of us to step back, re-evaluate and employ a little common sense. Most preprinted forms utilize a Quantitative Appraisal Method while a Qualitative Method is more is line with how buyers really act. QUANTITATIVE METHOD Paired Data Analysis: A quantitative technique is normally used to identify and measure adjustments to the sale prices or rents of comparable properties. To apply this technique, sales or rental data on nearly identical properties are analyzed to isolate a single characteristic’s effect on value or rent. Where do you get these so called adjustments? I know, I know. Paired sales, right? Let me see them. Better yet, the next time you are in the hot seat be prepared to show your paired sales analysis to the court or your state regulatory board. I do believe it is possible to have a proper paired sales analysis and with regression analysis becoming more and more popular there is oftentimes support for your adjustments. However, I would bet that most appraisers do not have this data in their offices to support their adjustments. Think about it! How many home buyers have you ever seen pull out a legal pad or a 1004 form and make line item adjustments for every little difference. Wait! A bathroom is worth $2,000, a garage $5,000, a deck is $2,000, etc. By the way, why don’t these numbers ever change? Buyers don’t act this way. Has anyone ever seen a buyer...
  • 1:40 PM » Congress Urged to Extend Tax Credit
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:40 PM by Realtor.Org
    NAR believes a full recovery of the housing market is uncertain without extending the $8,000 First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, which is set to expire on Nov. 30.
  • 1:25 PM » Housing Recovery Falters With Waning Govt. Stimulus
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:25 PM by CNBC
    Posted By: One third of all home buyers in the past several months have taken advantage of the $8000 home buyer tax credit. Since the start of the credit, the builder sentiment survey has gone from a record low in January to a steady gain three months running. But this month, one of the three components of the survey, the "sales expectations" part that gauges potential over the next six months, slipped. Topics: | | Sectors: | Companies: | MEDIA:
  • 1:25 PM » Banks' Commercial Real Estate Exposure Under Review
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:25 PM by CNBC
  • 1:25 PM » Credit card losses climb with jobless rate in Aug
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:25 PM by Reuters
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - A weak U.S. labor market led to bigger bank writedowns of credit card debt in August as a record-high jobless rate left consumers struggling to pay their bills.
  • 1:09 PM » The Secret Test That Ensures Lenders Win on Loan Mods
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 1:09 PM by
    The Net Present Value test is a complex computer model used by loan servicers to determine whether a homeowner qualifies for the federal loan modification program. The test compares two scenarios – modification and foreclosure – and determines which would be more profitable for the lender. If it’s foreclosure, the lender has no obligation to modify the loan. But the model is a black box. What goes in isn’t entirely clear, and what comes out isn’t always reliable.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 12:37 PM » Art Cashin: Stock Market Ahead of Itself
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 12:37 PM by
    The stock market continues to confuse the shorts with its exuberant gains since the March 9 bottom. Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services, thinks the market at this point has gotten way ahead of itself. “According to most of the rules that I’ve learned to live with over...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 12:37 PM » Can Housing Market Function Under Its Own Power Without Tax Credit?
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 12:37 PM by
    We’ve been writing for months that the recession appears close to a “technical” finale but that the recovery would be slow, sluggish and generally vulnerable for an unusually extended period of time. Two stories in the latest news cycle echo our long-running commentary and. In...
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 12:22 PM » New York Fed purchases $1.799 billion in Treasury coupons
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 12:22 PM by NY Fed
    New York Fed purchases $1.799 billion in Treasury coupons
  • 12:06 PM » Fannie Mae Appoints Terry Edwards EVP of Credit Portfolio Management
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 12:06 PM by Fannie Mae
    Fannie Mae President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Williams has appointed Terry Edwards to serve as the company's new Executive Vice President, Credit Portfolio Management. Edwards, former President and CEO of PHH Corporation, will have responsibility for Fannie Mae's foreclosure prevention and loss mitigation activities for its single-family book of business. In this capacity, he will lead the company's National Servicing Organization, its National Property Disposition Center, and its National Underwriting Center. His duties will include executing the Making Home Affordable program, managing our Real Estate Owned (REO) and loss mitigation activities, ensuring collection and preservation of credit enhancements, as well as overseeing and managing our servicing guidelines and policies.
  • 10:33 AM » Bailout Recipient Banks Lending Drops For Sixth Consecutive Month
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 10:33 AM by
    It was just yesterday that Tim Geithner was lying that banks are constantly increasing lending to consumers. Well, yet another lie refuted. Banks, and not just any banks, but those receiving government bail outs and subsidies, continued constricting lending in July, with total average loan balance outstanding declining by $54 billion from $4,295 billion to $4,241 billion, a 1.3% decline, following a 1.1% decline in June. As for the reason why loan originations in July declined a whopping 10% after posting a 12.7% increase in June, the government simply noted that this was due to “decreased demand from borrowers.” And so the circular lie continues: the government claims lending is increasing, when in fact, it is not, and when confronted with this fact, the government claims this is due to lack of interest. Furthermore, with retail sales reportedly higher, the consumer is allegedly spending more, with average wages declining, meaning consumer need to borrow to finance purchases, or else eat into their meager savings. Yet all this is occurring on the foreground of a rapidly increasing savings rate. So consumers are not borrowing, they are saving more, yet somehow sales are increasing: the lie is so circular that if there was a Kudlowbot, its head would explode trying to “spin” this null argument. Last but not least, the primary politically correct reason for bailing out banks was to ensure that they can continue lending. So here are the numbers: $4,434.7 billion in loans outstanding in January, $4,241.4 billion in July: a 4.4% decline, which, all else being equal, would have to be offset by a comparable increase in the rate of savings. However, with wages declining and more and more people becoming unemployed, all else is anything but equal. At least bank CEOs get their precious bail out capital and golden parachute packages (ref: John Thain) as popular media outlets continue spinning lies and spewing factless propaganda.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 10:02 AM » Wells loan modifications doing well in early days
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 10:02 AM by Market Watch
    Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf says that the firm's modified-mortgage loans are performing well in the early days.
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 10:02 AM by US Treasury
    September 16, 2009 TG-288 TREASURY INTERNATIONAL CAPITAL DATA FOR JULY WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today released Treasury International Capital (TIC) data for July 2009. The next release, which will report on data for August 2009, is scheduled for October 16, 2009. Net foreign purchases of long-term securities were $15.3 billion. Net foreign purchases of long-term U.S. securities were $44.0 billion. Of this, net purchases by private foreign investors were $32.1 billion, and net purchases by foreign official institutions were $12.0 billion. U.S. residents purchased a net $28.8 billion of long-term foreign securities. Net foreign acquisition of long-term securities, taking into account adjustments, is estimated to have been negative $7.4 billion. Foreign holdings of dollar-denominated short-term U.S. securities, including Treasury bills, and other custody liabilities decreased $4.5 billion. Foreign holdings of Treasury bills increased $14.4 billion. Banks' own net dollar-denominated liabilities to foreign residents decreased $85.7 billion. Monthly net TIC flows were negative $97.5 billion. Of this, net foreign private flows were negative $131.3 billion, and net foreign official flows were $33.8 billion. Complete data are available on the Treasury website at Note: The data for lines 22-32, and especially line 29, include data from a number of institutions previously reporting only quarterly as nonbanks, but which are now reporting monthly as banking entities. This change in reporter classification affects data going back to October 2008. TIC Monthly Reports on Cross-Border Financial Flows (Billions of dollars, not seasonally adjusted) 12 Months Through 2007 2008 Jul-08 Jul-09 Apr-09 May-09 Jun-09 Jul-09 Foreigners' Acquisitions of Long-term Securities 1 Gross Purchases of Domestic U.S. Securities 29730.6 30673.4 33482.0 21998.0 1474.7 1544.7 2039.3 1655.4 2 Gross Sales of Domestic U.S. Securities 28724.8 30260.9 32742.1 21769.3 1440.5 1536...
  • 9:31 AM » Oil dips on weak demand, signs of recovery support
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 9:31 AM by Reuters
    LONDON (Reuters) - Oil eased below $71 a barrel on Wednesday after a higher-than-forecast rise in U.S. fuel stocks offset positive expectations for the world economy that spurred other markets higher.
  • 8:15 AM » New Rules Ease Loans Restructuring
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 8:15 AM by WSJ
    The Treasury released new tax rules that make it easier for distressed property owners to restructure loans that were packaged and sold as securities.
  • 8:14 AM » California seen lagging behind U.S. recovery
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 8:14 AM by CNN
    Read full story for latest details.
  • 8:14 AM » Can the Market Stay Irrational Longer than the Fed Can Stay Solvent?
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 8:14 AM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: Lost among all the 1 year anniversary musings about the fall of Lehman Brothers was this small snippet from an (several bloggers picked it up): As of last week, the ABX index of sub-prime mortgage debt showed that AAA-rated securities from early 2007 were trading at 28 cents on the dollar – AA was at 4 cents, near all-time lows . No one can say that $2 trillion (£1.2 trillion) of sub-prime and Alt-A debt is still trading at panic levels , exaggerating losses. The dust has settled. What we can see is that creditors will never recoup their money .
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 8:14 AM » Citigroup Makes a Good Move: Preparing to Buy Out Uncle Sam
    Published Wed, Sep 16 2009 8:14 AM by Seeking Alpha
    Linus Wilson submits: The reports that Citigroup () wants to issue up to $5 billion of equity to repurchase a corresponding number of shares from the U.S. Treasury. This is a great idea that benefits both taxpayers and Citigroup’s shareholders. Citi does not have enough common equity capital to repurchase the government’s shares outright. Yet, if it issues new common equity to reduce the government’s stake, no capital is lost. Citi’s shareholders should be cheered that managers are taking steps to exit the government ownership. Taxpayers should be eager lock in some of their paper profits on the Citigroup stake. On the $25 billion investment that was converted into common shares, taxpayers are looking at paper profits of over $11 billion on the 7.7 billion shares of stock and the 210 million warrants that they received for that cash infusion. It would be hard to quickly reduce this stake through open market sales alone without pushing down the share price. Yet, a larger underwritten sale of the government shares may be possible without a large negative impact on the share price. Typically, seasoned equity is issued at a two to three percent discount from the previous days’ closing price.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • Tue, Sep 15 2009
  • 5:12 PM » Buffett says U.S. economy "has not turned up"
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 5:12 PM by Reuters
    CARLSBAD, California (Reuters) - The U.S. economy has not begun to climb out of the worst recession since the Great Depression but the "terror" that followed last year's near-collapse of the financial system is gone due in part to government intervention, billionaire investor Warren Buffett said on Tuesday.
  • 2:04 PM » FDIC's Bair: Banks More Stable, but Failures to Continue
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 2:04 PM by CNBC
  • 2:04 PM » Economists React: Spending on ‘Little Things’ Again
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 2:04 PM by WSJ
    Economists and others weigh in on . The absence of the consumer from the recovery story was a major cloud hanging over the outlook. Today’s report should remove some of those clouds. Importantly, gains are not just tied to auto incentives. –Stephen Gallagher, Societe Generale I have been looking for households to start buying again the little things that make them happy. If they were doing that, we would know that confidence was improving and spending would pick back up. Well, it looks like that happened in August. Retail sales surged as the “Cash for Clunkers” program did its job. But the surprising data in the report was that people also bought a whole lot of other things as well. They visiting the malls again, spending money at department stores and buying sporting goods, health care products, clothing, appliances and electronics. Only furniture and building supply retailers were left behind. It also looks like food is in again as we gave up our diets to go to restaurants and supermarkets. Feeding one’s face is a nice way to treat yourself well. –Naroff Economic Advisors The upward momentum in retail sales in August was not merely a ‘cash-for-clunkers’ or higher gas price phenomenon. Core retail sales (sales excluding autos, gasoline, and building materials) have risen at a 2.7% rate over the last three months versus a 1.7% decline over the last 12 months. –RDQ Economics While in light of retailer comments we held a fairly pessimistic expectation for back-to-school sales, the data suggest that spending was actually fairly robust. Traditional soft good categories posted decent performance, including apparel (+2.4%), sporting goods (+2.3%), and so-called general merchandise (1.6%). That fact is giving us greater optimism about the health of the retail sector, which is increasingly likely to have a decent holiday season, especially on a year-over-year comparison. –Guy LeBas, Janney Montgomery Scott These are volatile data , and we would not advise making too much of...
  • 2:02 PM » SEC to Reconsider Flash Orders on Thursday
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 2:02 PM by
    This Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to reconsider whether market centers should be able to use flash orders. One possible outcome could be the end of flash orders on those markets that allow them. The SEC has been under pressure for several months to reevaluate flash orders. However, these order types have staunch critics as well as supporters.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 12:46 PM » Capital Constraints, Counterparty Risk, and Deviations from Covered Interest Rate Parity.
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 12:46 PM by NY Fed
    Niall Coffey, Warren B. Hrung, and Asani Sarkar. Capital Constraints, Counterparty Risk, and Deviations from Covered Interest Rate Parity. Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Reports Staff Report Number 393, September 2009.
  • 10:12 AM » Conditions for New York manufacturers improved in September
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 10:12 AM by
    The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that conditions for New York manufacturers improved in September, following the upturn first observed in August. The general business conditions index increased 7 points, to 18.9, its highest level since late 2007.
  • 10:12 AM » Obama's Financial Reform - A Distraction from the Real Issues
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 10:12 AM by Seeking Alpha
    submits: By Simon Johnson President Obama’s was disappointing. As a diagnosis of the problems that let us into financial crisis, it was his clearest and best effort so far. He didn’t say it was a rare accident for which no one is to blame; rather he placed the blame squarely on the structure, incentives, and actions of Wall Street.
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: Seeking Alpha
  • 8:55 AM » Quality of home construction on the rise
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 8:55 AM by CNN
    Builders may not be putting up as many houses as they did during the boom, but what they are building, they're building better.
  • 8:54 AM » National 30-year Fixed Mortgage Rates Continue to Fall; Weekly Average Rates Below 5.00% in Some States
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 8:54 AM by
    National Rate Below 5.00% Monday, According to Zillow® Mortgage Rate Monitor
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 8:54 AM » Government Propping Up Real Estate
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 8:54 AM by The Big Picture
    Off to Boston for a business meeting — but before heading to JFK, I had to toss up one more post on the various government interventions in Real Estate: “Over the past year, the government has intervened heavily at essentially every stage of the home-buying process. In fact, more than 80% of the new residential mortgage loans made this year benefited from some form of government support, according to the trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance. To keep funds flowing to the housing market, the government bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last year and now effectively owns the mortgage finance giants and their combined $5.4 trillion in loan portfolios. To keep mortgage rates low, the Federal Reserve is on track to purchase nearly $1.5 trillion in debt issued or guaranteed by the government’s various mortgage arms and another $300 billion in Treasurys, which set the benchmark for home lending. And to boost sales, the government also is offering $8,000 tax credits to first-time home buyers.” And, it does not appear there is any end in sight any time soon. > > Source : JON HILSENRATH and DEBORAH SOLOMON WSJ, SEPTEMBER 15, 2009
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

    Source: The Big Picture
  • 8:54 AM » No Easy Exit for U.S. as Housing Savior
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 8:54 AM by WSJ
    The government's extraordinary interventions in the economy are the primary reason the housing market is functioning at all, economists say, which makes an exit unlikely any time soon.
  • 8:49 AM » Fed Likely to Keep Buying Mortgage Instruments
    Published Tue, Sep 15 2009 8:49 AM by WSJ
    The Federal Reserve, which convenes its policy meeting next week, is likely to stay the course to buy $1.45 trillion in mortgage-linked securities despite potential resistance from a few regional Fed presidents. Central-bank officials plan to discuss winding down those purchases over the coming months to limit disruption to the market when the buying comes to an end. Some regional Fed policy makers have suggested the Fed might halt the program before it finishes its purchases of $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and $200 billion in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt announced in the past year. But ...
  • Mon, Sep 14 2009
  • 10:39 PM » Malibu’s Least Wanted: Exec kicked out of the Bu and Wells
    Published Mon, Sep 14 2009 10:39 PM by
    Sometimes I wonder if I am living in a movie. Some type of fantasy land where bankers steal my money, my kids money, take out bonuses for failing and then party high on the hog in Malibu beach fronts as I slave to the dollar daily. Oh, its no movie stupid, it’s the U.S.A.! And it’s beginning [...]
    Click Here to Read the Full Article

  • 5:53 PM » Where's the Next Bubble? And When Will it Burst?
    Published Mon, Sep 14 2009 5:53 PM by CNBC
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